CHURCH AND CIVIC LEADERS will join local school children at St Peter’s Church on Saturday (4 June 11.30am – 12.05) to recreate one of the most important events in religious literary history.
The world’s oldest surviving bible was transcribed and illuminated at the Wearmouth Jarrow monastery. The document which weighed five and a half stone and was ten inches thick, is stored at the Laurentian library in Florence.
Thirteen centuries ago on 4th June 716 AD that Latin Bible known as the ‘Codex Amiatinus’ left St Peter’s Church for Rome as a gift from Abbot Ceolfrith to Pope Gregory II.
Now a Children’s Codex transcribed and illuminated by the young people of Sunderland and Jarrow, will set off on the same journey to be presented to Pope Francis at the Vatican later this year.
Every school in Sunderland and Jarrow was invited to take part in the project co-ordinated by SPEAK (St Peter’s Educational Activities for Kids) as part of the Codex Amiatinus 1300 commemoration programme.
It is funded by Sunderland City Council’s North Area Committee and Big Local Central Jarrow Community Fund, and delivered in partnership by Sunderland City and South Tyneside Councils.
Each of the 140 schools who contributed were given a template to follow reflecting the size and design of pages, with a unique biblical reference for pupils to base their writing and designs on.
The results of their combined creative talents have been bound into four volumes, three to be left on display in their respective communities and one to follow in the footsteps of the original literary pilgrimage to Rome to be put on display at the Vatican.
As 1300 years ago, the Children’s Codex began its journey at St Paul’s in Jarrow where it was presented to the congregation before being carried along the same route between the twin monasteries to St Peter’s Church in Monkwearmouth, where it will be blessed by the Bishop of Jarrow on Saturday 4 June.
Joining the congregation with the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Alan Emerson, will be the Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr Alan Smith, and the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, John Mowbray OBE.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Alan Emerson said: “It is amazing and humbling to think that thirteen hundred years to the day, the Codex Amianitus left St Peter’s Church to begin on the long pilgrimage to Rome to be presented to the Pope.
“It re-inforced Wearmouth-Jarrow at the centre of Christian scholarship and learning, and at the heart of medieval culture and society
“The ‘Children’s Codex’ now retracing that journey, reflects the creative talents and aspirations of the young people living here now.”
Providing music at the service will be members of Fulwell Junior Primary school, adding atmosphere to the occasion by singing the specially commissioned ‘Ceolfrith’s Journey’ which musically recounts the pilgrimage, dressed as medieval Monks.
After the service the children will join the Mayor in a procession from the church to hand over the Children’s Codex at the boundary gate to a local history student actually called Bede dressed in Monk’s robes to represent his namesake, as he takes the Children’s Codex on the next stage of its journey.
From St Peter’s it will be taken across the River Wear in a boat provided by Sunderland Maritime Heritage Trust, to be put on display at Sunderland History Fair hosted at the Quayside Exchange buildings.
Next Wednesday (8 June) the pilgrimage south begins. Local train company Grand Central has donated tickets for six children individually representing every infant, primary, secondary, special educational needs, Catholic and Jarrow school and an adult travelling companion on their 8.42am service from Sunderland to King’s Cross.
In London the delegation from Sunderland and Jarrow will travel to Lambeth Palace where the Children’s Codex is to be signed and blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in readiness for its journey to the Vatican in Rome later this year.
Graham Nicol from SPEAK (St Peter’s Educational Activities for Kids) said: “This venture has touched thousands of local children and young people in so many ways, from Nursery schools to Secondary schools.
“Not only have they all discovered the incredible heritage and history of their city, but many have looked at the bible in a new light.
“As a city and a community we can celebrate that the world’s oldest surviving bible which was created at the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, and 1300 years later to the day come together in pride at the achievement.”